Apple refers to these as iMac (Early 2006), but we also call them iMac Core Duo, the first – and only – iMacs based on Intel’s Core Duo processor.
Three months earlier, had Apple introduced an updated iMac G5 – slimmer, lighter, a bit faster, with built-in iSight and sporting a remote control. In January 2006, Apple replaced it with what looks like essentially the same computer from the front, but with an Intel Core Duo CPU instead of a single-core PowerPC G5.
There was a lot of debate about which model would be the first with Intel inside, and the iMac is a good choice. The Core Duo processor offers 2-3x the power of the G5, and it would be unseemly for the new Intel-based Mac mini to outperform the iMac. Which raises the question: Will the new Intel iMac outperform the Power Mac G5 Dual?
The only things that seem to be missing are FireWire 800, which Apple still reserves for its “pro” models and has not yet put on an iMac, and AppleWorks, a product Apple has bundled with every previous iMac. This is the first iMac ever to officially support monitor spanning.
The new iMac ships with Mac OS X 10.4.4 Tiger, the first Intel version of the Mac OS, and iLife ’06, which is a universal binary and is intended to replace the aging AppleWorks 6.
The biggest drawback to Core Duo iMacs is that they ship with only 512 MB of memory. While that’s enough to run Tiger comfortably, it doesn’t provide a lot of room for browsers and other high-demand apps. Users will be much happier with 1 GB, and, for the price, you may as well go all the way to its maximum of 2 GB.
What You Need to Know
Using the 32-bit only Core Duo CPUs allowed Apple to introduced Intel-based Macs before the Core 2 Duo, which supports both 32-bit and 64-bit operation, came to market. Because OS X 10.7 Lion is a 64-bit only operating system, Core Duo Macs do not support it, making OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard the end of the Mac OS road for the earliest Intel Macs.
With a 2 GB memory ceiling, this iMac wouldn’t run Lion decently anyhow, but the first generation Intel Macs run Snow Leopard very nicely with 2 GB of RAM. If your Early 2006 iMac has 512 MB, upgrade immediately. You really need 1 GB to get okay performance from OS X 10.4 Tiger or 10.5 Leopard. As of June 2016, you can get 2 GB for $15 from Other World Computing, and with Snow Leopard just $20 from Apple, take this iMac as far as it will go with RAM and operating system.
Intel iMacs shipped with 7200 rpm hard drives, and 250 GB may be enough for you. Newer drives will often provide much snappier performance due to larger data buffers. 1 TB 7200 rpm drives start below $40 these days, and for a serious speed boost – like starting up twice as fast – Other World Computing offers a 60 GB solid state drive (SSD) for just $43 ($55 with a mounting kit), although you’ll probably want more more capacity than that.
Finally, you can upgrade to a faster, more efficient Core 2 Duo Socket M CPU, although that won’t give you 64-bit operation unless you update to EFI firmware 2,1. The 2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo T7600 is a popular upgrade option, currently $26 and up on eBay (see CPU Upgrade Options for 2006 iMacs).
Intel-based Macs use a partitioning scheme known as GPT. Only Macintel models can boot from GPT hard drives. Both PowerPC and Intel Macs can boot from APM (Apple’s old partitioning scheme) hard drives, which is the format you must use to create a universal boot drive in Leopard. PowerPC Macs running any version of the Mac OS prior to 10.4.2 cannot mount GPT volumes. PowerPC Macs won’t let you install OS X to a USB drive or choose it as your startup volume, although there is a work around for that.
- introduced 2006.01.10 at US$1,299 (17″ 1.83 GHz) and US$1,699 (20″ 2.0 GHz); replaced 2006.09.06 by iMac Core 2 Duo. Education-only 17″ model with Combo drive introduced 2006.07.05.
- Model identifier: iMac4,1
- Model no.: A1173 (17″), A1174 (20″)
- Part no.: MA199 (17″), MA200 (20″)
- Latest EFI version: EFI 1.1
- Requires Mac OS X 10.4.4 Tiger to 10.6 Snow Leopard; not compatible with OS X 10.7 Lion
- Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard compatibility
- Grand Central Dispatch is supported.
- 64-bit operation is not supported with Core Solo or Core Duo CPUs. Upgrading with a Core 2 Duo CPU will not change that.
- OpenCL is not supported with Radeon X1600 GPU.
- CPU: 1.83/2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo Yonah, Socket M makes upgrades possible (see CPU Upgrade Options for 2006 iMacs)
- L2 cache: 2 MB shared cache on CPU
- Bus: 667 MHz
- Geekbench 2: 2542 (2.0 GHz), 2363 (1.83 GHz)
- RAM: 512 MB, expandable to 2 GB using two PC2-5300 DDR2 SODIMMs
- Graphics: ATI Radeon X1600 with PCI-Express support, supports up to 23″ external display and monitor spanning
- VRAM: 128 MB GDDR3 SDRAM (expandable to 256 MB on 20″ model)
- 17″ 1440 x 900 flat panel display
- 20″ 1680 x 1050 flat panel display
- Video out: mini-DVI, VGA, S-video, composite (requires adapter)
- Hard drive bus: 1.5 Gbps SATA Rev. 1
- Hard drive: 160/250 GB 7200 rpm SATA drive
- Optical drive bus: UltraATA
- SuperDrive: writes DVD±R discs at up to 8x speed, dual layer at up to 2.4x; DVD±RW at up to 4x; reads DVDs at up to 8x, writes CD-R discs at up to 24x, writes CD-RW discs at up to 8x, reads CDs at up to 24x
- USB: 3 USB 2.0 ports
- FireWire 400: 2 ports
- Modem: optional 56 kbps USB modem supports v.92
- Ethernet: 10/100/gigabit
- WiFi: 802.11g AirPort Extreme included
- Bluetooth 2.0: included
- IR receiver: supports Apple Remote (included)
- Microphone: internal
- H x W x D (17″): 16.9 x 16.8 x 6.8 in/43 x 42.6 x 17.3 cm
- H x W x D (20″): 18.6 x 19.4 x 7.4 in/47.2 x 49.3 x 18.9 cm
- weight (17″): 15.5 lb/7 kg
- weight (20″): 22 lb/10 kg
- Power supply: 180W
- CPU can be replaced with Core 2 Duo or faster Core Duo.
- What’s the Best Version of OS X for My Mac?, Ian R Campbell, The Sensible Mac, 2008.02.28. Which version of Mac OS X is best for your hardware depends on several factors.
- Stayin’ Alive: Upgrading the CPU, Hard Drive, and RAM on a 2006 iMac, Jim Tanous, TekRevue, 2013.11.17. “…the 2006 iMac was uniquely suited for this upgrade project. Not counting the Mac Pro, it was one of the last Macs with a socketed CPU, meaning that processor upgrades were possible….”
- The road to obsolescence: Intel Core Duo users will be left behind, Steve Watkins, The Practical Mac, 2010.01.19. Mac OS X 10.7 may well be the version that leaves behind those with 32-bit Core Solo and Core Duo Macs from 2006.
- The iMac Legacy: After the G3, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.08.15. The G3 iMac influenced the whole industry, but Apple continued to move forward with innovative designs using G4, G5, and Intel processors.
- Know Your Mac’s Upgrade Options, Phil Herlihy, The Usefulness Equation, 2008.08.26. Any Mac can be upgraded, but it’s a question of what can be upgraded – RAM, hard drive, video, CPU – and how far it can be upgraded.
- Why the 20″ iMac is perfect for home or school, John Hatchett, Recycled Computing, 2009.09.29. The aluminum iMac has plenty of power and screen space, yet it’s small enough and light enough to tote from place to place.
- The 64-bitness of Mac OS X 10.6 ‘Snow Leopard’, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2009.08.19. Although Apple is promoting ‘Snow Leopard’ as a fully 64-bit operating system, it defaults to running in 32-bit mode.
- The Road Ahead: 64-bit Computing, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2009.08.19. Personal computers started with 8-bit CPUs, Macs started out with a 24-bit operating system, and 32-bit computing is starting to give way to 64 bits.
- OS X 10.6 requirements, why Apple owns the high end, when to upgrade your Mac, and more, Mac News Review, 2009.08.14. Also Microsoft Word patent infringement, BackPack shelf for iMac and Cinema Displays, two updated Bible study programs, and more.
- OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard for $29, run Windows on your Mac for Free, Update Breaks Office 2008, and more, Mac News Review, 2009.08.07. Also getting your Mac ready for Snow Leopard, Time Capsule doubles capacity, Picasa 3 for Mac, Bodega Mac app store, and more.
- Computer disaster ends happily, Alan Zisman, Zis Mac, 2009.08.05. The iMac was getting slower and slower, and Disk Utility kept trying to fix the same problems. With a new hard drive, the iMac is running as well as ever.
- Optimized Software Builds Bring Out the Best in Your Mac, Dan Knight, Low End Mac’s Online Tech Journal, 2009.06.30. Applications compiled for your Mac’s CPU can load more quickly and run faster than ones compiled for universal use.
- Intel’s promise fulfilled: More processing power per processor cycle, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2009.06.30. Apple promised improved CPU efficiencies when it announced the move to Intel in 2005. Three years of MacBooks show the progress.
- Tips for Installing or Reinstalling Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2009.06.10. Mac OS X 10.4 uses less memory than Leopard, supports Classic Mode on PowerPC Macs, and, unlike Leopard, is supported on G3 Macs.
- Golden Apples: The 25 best Macs to date, Michelle Klein-Häss, Geek Speak, 2009.01.27. The best Macs from 1984 through 2009, including a couple that aren’t technically Macs.
- Ubuntu Linux and Boot camp make it easy to create a triple boot Mac, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2008.12.24. Boot Camp makes it easy to install Windows on Intel Macs, and Ubuntu now makes it easy to install Linux to a virtual Windows drive.
- The ‘Better Safe Than Sorry’ Guide to Installing Mac OS X Updates, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.12.16. Most users encounter no problems using Software Update, but some preflight work and using the Combo updater means far less chance of trouble.
- Why You Should Partition Your Mac’s Hard Drive, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.12.11. “At the very least, it makes sense to have a second partition with a bootable version of the Mac OS, so if you have problems with your work partition, you can boot from the ’emergency’ partition to run Disk Utility and other diagnostics.”
- Virtualization shootout: VMWare Fusion 2 vs. Parallels Desktop 4, Kev Kitchens, Kitchens Sync, 2008.11.20. Both programs do the same thing, but one runs Windows XP smoothly alongside Mac apps, while the other bogs down everything but Windows.
- How to clone Mac OS X to a new hard drive, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.10.07. Whether you want to put a bigger, faster drive in your Mac or clone OS X for use in another Mac, here’s the simple process.
- CodeWeavers brings Google’s Chrome browser to Intel Macs, Alan Zisman, Zis Mac, 2008.10.02. Google’s new Chrome browser uses separate processes for each tab and brings other changes to Windows users. Now Mac fans can try it as well.
- Tiger vs. Leopard: Which is best for you?, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.09.22. Two great versions of Mac OS X, but unless your Mac is well above the minimum spec for Leopard and has lots of RAM, stick with Tiger.
- SATA, SATA II, SATA 600, and Product Confusion Fatigue, Frank Fox, Stop the Noiz, 2008.09.08. In addition to the original SATA specification and the current 3 Gb/s specification, SATA revision 3.0 is just around the corner.
- Does running OS X system maintenance routines really do any good?, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.08.26. Mac OS X is designed to run certain maintenance routines daily, weekly, and monthly – but can’t if your Mac is off or asleep.
- The Compressed Air Keyboard Repair, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.07.24. If your keyboard isn’t working as well as it once did, blasting under the keys with compressed air may be the cure.
- Free VirtualBox for Mac now a virtual contender, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2008.07.21. A year ago, the Mac version of VirtualBox lacked some essential features. Over the past year, it’s grown into a very useful tool.
- Virtual PC works with Leopard, Intel vs. PowerPC performance, beyond the Mac mini, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.05.20. Also upgrading Intel iMacs, Compact Flash in a PowerBook 2400, and thoughts on low-end Macs.
- SheepShaver brings Classic Mac OS to Intel Macs and Leopard, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2008.05.20. Mac OS X 10.5 doesn’t support Classic Mode. Neither does Leopard. But SheepShaver lets you emulate a PowerPC Mac and run the Classic Mac OS.
- Windows on Macs: Three paths for integration, Jason Packer, Macs in the Enterprise, 2008.05.14. Mac users have three routes for running Windows apps: Run Windows using Boot Camp or virtualization, or use a compatibility layer such as WINE.
- Apple #4 US PC vendor, IT and Macs in business, NetWare for Leopard, and more, Mac News Review, 2008.04.25. Also still using old Macs, 200 Mbps powerline networking for Macs, Macintel firmware restoration, hot swap SATA drives, and more.
- Restore stability to a troubled Mac with a clean system install, Keith Winston, Linux to Mac, 2008.01.15. If your Mac is misbehaving, the best fix just might be a fresh reinstallation of Mac OS X – don’t forget to backup first.
- Mac hits 6.8% share on Net, Intel iMac screen problems, Classic on Leopard, and more, Mac News Review, 2007.12.07. Also adding hierarchical menus to the Leopard Dock, speeding up Leopard with less colors, a new OS X email client, and Parallels Premium Edition.
- External $100 Sony DVD burner likes Macs, Brian Gray, Fruitful Editing, 2007.10.10. The box and manual say nothing about Mac compatibility, but this 18x USB 2.0 DVD burner is plug-and-play (at least with Tiger).
- FastMac 8x SuperDrive and BurnAgain DVD: Fast and easy multisession disc burning, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2007.10.08. FastMac’s 8x SuperDrive upgrade is remarkably fast compared with older PowerBook burners, and BurnAgain DVD makes it easy to append files to a previously burned CD or DVD.
- New Macs expected August 7, Apple keyboard repair tutorial, Linux vs. Mac vs. Widows, and more, Mac News Review, 2007.08.03. Also new Apple keyboard inspired by MacBook?, Logitech’s new Wave keyboard, iNeck lets G5 and Intel iMacs pivot, TechTool Pro updated for latest Macs, and more.
- Software to darken iMac display, columnist returns iPhone, Logitech introduces air mouse, and more, Mac News Review, 2007.07.20. Also a USB turntable for turning your record albums into MP3s, a retractable flash drive, iPhone: The Missing Manual, Parallels Desktop 3 a major update, and more.
- VMware Fusion beta 3 adds new features, takes a giant step toward release, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2007.04.11. Looking for a virtualization solution for your Intel Mac? The latest beta of VMWare Fusion makes several improvements and includes some unique features.
- 1 core, 2 cores, 4 cores, 8: How Much Difference Does It Make?, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2007.04.10. Geekbench scores make it possible to compare the newest 3 GHz 8-core Mac Pro with the 1.5 GHz Core Solo Mac mini – and all the models in between.
- 11 No Cost Tips for Optimizing Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Performance, Ed Eubanks Jr, The Efficient Mac User, 2007.03.12. If your Mac is getting sluggish, here are 11 tips that can help restore its original performance.
- DST fixes & info for OS X, Classic Mac OS; Maynor demos WiFi hack; Samsung’s hybrid drive; and more, The ‘Book Review, 2007.03.09. Also glossy vs. matte displays, troubleshooting slot-loading drives, 802.11n upgrade for MacBooks and Intel iMacs, bargain ‘Books from $209 to $2,299, and more.
- CrossOver: Run Windows Apps on Intel Macs Without Windows, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2007.02.28. If you need to run Windows apps on your Intel Mac once in a while, CrossOver may be the least expensive way to do so since it eliminates the need to buy a copy of Windows.
- The annoying white iMac, Andrew J Fishkin, Best Tools for the Job, 2007.02.15. From a design standpoint, the iMac is brilliant, but the massive amounts of white plastic can distract you from what’s on the display.
- Which Intel Macs Take CPU Upgrades?, $2 802.11n Enabler, USB Drive Adapter, and More, Mac News Review, 2007.02.02. Also a DST fix for Panther, Logos coming to Macs, Intel’s chip breakthrough, iConnect iPod integration for GM vehicles, a waterproof iPod, and more.
- ‘Poor boy’ .mac alternatives, Mac Pro ruled in 2006, Apple closing on HP, and more, Mac News Review, 2007.01.05. Also Mac mini in a Subaru, frugal Mighty Mouse, what to do when your 2006 iMac won’t start, compact Pentax scanner, wireless USB extender, new drive enclosures, and more.
- World’s fastest Mac, ‘notMac’ challenge, Intel Mac bug with target disk mode, and more, Mac News Review, 2006.12.15. Also a contest from ThriftyMac, miniStack V2 grows to 750 GB, PROGear’s card reader matches Mac Pro and Power Mac G5 styling, and the Ear3 hearing threat detector.
- Parallels Revisited: Release Version Far More Polished than Beta, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2006.11.21. Parallels lets you run Windows or Linux without rebooting your Intel-based Mac, and it’s made great strides since the beta came out earlier this year.
- Mac Pro blows away competition, extended warranties crummy deals, firmware updates for Intel mini and iMac, more, Mac News Review, 2006.11.17. Also 7 free Mac maintenance utilities, dual LCD monitors, a vacuum tube amp for the iPod, and more.
- Beginning my Macintel adventure, Steve Watkins, The Practical Mac, 2006.09.21. When Apple introduced the Core 2 Duo iMacs, the time was ripe to pick up a 20″ Core Duo iMac on the cheap.
- Region Free DVD Viewing Options for Intel and PowerPC Macs, Andrew J Fishkin, The Mobile Mac, 2006.09.12. Several hardware and software options that will let your view ‘wrong region’ DVDs on your PowerPC or Intel Mac.
- Is 512 MB enough?, Macs gain share in business, wireless Mighty Mouse, Toast adds Blu-ray support, and more, Mac News Review, 2006.07.28. Also OWC’s FireWire 400 & 800/USB 2.0/eSATA drives, miniXpress 160 GB drive, Jeep flash drives, SteerMouse supports up to 8 buttons plus vertical and horizontal scrolling, and miniStat2 system monitor.
- Edu-iMac too compromised, Mac Portables return to mothership, SheepShaver unstable, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2006.07.12. Thoughts on the education iMac, the Mac Portable, and the value of a Mac Plus in 2006. Also SheepShaver feedback, OS X ligature problems, and MP3 software for OS 8.
- Is the new edu-iMac a good value or simply too compromised?, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2006.07.10. The new education-only iMac is mostly the same as the consumer model, but how big an impact will the Intel graphics have on performance?
- Switching the small office from Windows to Macs, Ed Eubanks Jr, The Efficient Mac User, 2006.06.28. With Intel-based Macs, the time may be right to adopt OS X as your standard platform while providing Windows as an option when necessary.
- Macs take away Microsoft pain, Macs revive James Bond, iMac king of all media, iWoofer, and more, Mac News Review, 2006.06.16. Also Windows users guide to switching to the Mac, Bluetooth firmware update for PPC Macs, universal USB 2.0 drive adapter, waterproof case for video iPod, and more.
- Drive matters, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2006.06.14. There’s more to picking the right hard drive than size, spindle speed, buffer size, and price. But how can a 5400 rpm drive ever outperform a 7200 rpm drive?
- Symantec says buy a Mac, SheepShaver supports Classic on Macintel, painted minis, and more, Mac News Review, 2006.05.19. Also email on a Mac Plus, firmware updates for Intel iMac and mini, $159 G4/933 MHz upgrade, FW800/USB 2.0 to SATA bridge board, and more.
- Macintosh G6 clones, Apple tops in tech support, Mac mini Core Duo upgrades, and more, Mac News Review, 2006.05.12. Also more on Boot Camp, 1.66 GHz Mac mini vs. 1.83 GHz iMac, Seagate’s humongous 750 GB hard drive, Guest PC gets faster, and more.
- Apple’s original Boot Camp installation instructions, Jeff Adkins, The Lite Side, 2006.04.11. “Was it just me, or did anyone else catch those little jabs at Windows on the Boot Camp installation page? ‘If your computer becomes infected, well, what did you expect?’ and so on.”
- Apple joins ‘Win on Mac’ army with Boot Camp, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2006.04.07. The hackers did it first, but Apple’s Boot Camp is a much more elegant solution to putting Windows XP on Macintel hardware.
- Boot Camp: Apple officially supports Windows XP booting on Macintel hardware, The Macintel Report, 2006.04.06. No more need to do any hacks to get WinXP booting on Apple’s Intel-based Macs. Apple’s new Boot Camp software fully supports it.
- Windows XP on Macintel a reality, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2006.03.23. It took a while, but it’s now possible to boot Windows XP on the new Intel-based Macs.
- WinXP boots on Macintel, real world thinking about Rosetta performance, and Intel’s impact on future Macs, The Macintel Report, 2006.03.23. If you want to run Windows XP on Macintel hardware, it’s now possible. Also, common sense thinking about Rosetta speed and how Intel’s future CPU plans will shape the Mac.
- OS X 10.4.5 fixes Front Row video glitch on Intel iMac, Mac mini inside an SE/30,’I’m not buying a Mac’, and more, Mac News Review, 2006.02.17. Also, iMac Core Duo sometimes over twice as fast as iMac G5, Intel iMac ‘simply the best’, and tech reviews gone bad.
- Computer benchmarks and other baloney: Don’t expect 2-4x performance from Intel Macs, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2006.02.06. The Intel Macs are faster than the models they replace, but only with software written for them. With older software, they’re actually slower than last year’s Macs.
- Tech: Booting an Intel iMac from an external drive, Jonathan Rentzsch, TidBITS, 2006.01.30. Intel Macs use a different partitioning scheme (GPT) than older Macs (APM), so you can’t simply update an existing drive – your must repartition it with GPT.
- Comparing Apples to Apples: When is Macintel faster? When does PowerPC make more sense?, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2006.01.29. Benchmarks show the Intel Core Duo flies through native code but plods through PowerPC programs. Will PowerPC or Intel give you the more productive workflow?
- Macintel stumbling block: Sometimes you need Classic, Jeff Adkins, Mac Lab Report, 2006.01.25. As nice as the new Intel Macs seem to be, the lack of any Classic environment makes it impossible for some people to upgrade.
- iMac 17″ Core Duo, Eric Bangeman, ars technica, 2006.01.17. An in-depth hands-on look at the new 17″ Core Duo iMac finds it lives up to its promise and Rosetta is very usable.
- The iMac 2006 value equation: Intel changes everything, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2006.01.11. The performance gain with Intel’s Core Duo CPU gives the newest iMacs Power Mac Dual performance at iMac prices.
- Apple Specs for iMac (Early 2006)
Keywords: #imaccoreduo #imacearly2006
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